Dorner manhunt: 'Hot gas' that burned cabin was last resort
SWAT officers in the cabin standoff with murder suspect Christopher Dorner decided to use highly flammable "hot gas" canisters as a last resort after other efforts to persuade Dorner to surrender failed, according to law enforcement sources.
Officers made the decision to use the canisters, which caused the cabin to catch fire, Tuesday as the sun was setting and authorities worried about dealing with Dorner at night in the remote Big Bear area, said the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. Dorner had continued to fire on officers, and they feared more deputies would be hurt or killed, they added.Authorities had chased Dorner into the cabin on Seven Oaks Road on Tuesday afternoon amid a massive gun battle in which one San Bernardino County deputy was killed and another badly wounded.
Law enforcement officers lobbed conventional tear gas into the cabin, but when Dorner failed to emerge they used CS gas canisters, a more intense weapon known to start fires, and sent in a demolition vehicle. Dorner is believe to have died inside, though it is unclear if the fire caused his death.San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said deputies did not purposely burn down the cabin. He said they deployed the CS canisters after they were left with no other options.
"I can tell you it was not on purpose," he said. "We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out."
McMahon praised the deputies involved in the standoff. "It was like a war zone, and our deputies continued to go in the area .... Our deputies are true heroes."
Authorities are trying to confirm whether the charred remains found in the cabin are Dorner's.
Authorities declared the manhunt over Wednesday. And the Los Angeles Police Department, which had been on frequent tactical alerts, has resumed normal operations. Most of the protective details assigned to the 50 or so families threatened in an online manifesto attributed to Dorner have been called off.
Dorner, an ex-LAPD officer embittered by his firing in 2009, killed the daughter of a retired LAPD captain, her fiance and two law officers during a nine-day rampage that began in Irvine, police say.
Regardless of Dorner's presumed death, Neiman said, the LAPD is continuing an examination of the handling of Dorner's disciplinary case, ordered by Chief Charlie Beck. Dorner complained that he had been fired unfairly.
In Riverside on Wednesday, police motorcycles led a lengthy procession toward a service for Michael Crain, the slain Riverside officer.
Mary Ann Taylor, who lives down the street from the Grove Community Church where the service was held, stood with her twin granddaughters and watched as police cars filed past with flashing lights.
"Put your hands over your hearts. Show some respect for them," Taylor told the girls, and added: "I think all of us feel the sadness of the last few days."
Big Bear Lake Mayor Jay Obernolte said he was relieved that the manhunt was over. The area was "freed of the sense of being a community that is not safe because there is a cop-killer hiding in our little mountain town."
-- Andrew Blankstein, Phil Willon and Rong-Gong Lin II